TAMPA — Expect considerably cooler temperatures if you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner in the Tampa Bay area this week.
And if you’re one of the millions of Americans traveling by air this week, plan on leaving for the airport a little earlier than normal. Strong storms already are bringing winter-like weather to Texas and the Northeast, leaving canceled flights and stranded travelers in their wake. The ripple effect on the travel grid was already being felt around the country Monday.
In Tampa, the unseasonably warm and dry weather of recent days will be gone by the end of Tuesday. Forecasters are calling for a 60 percent chance of rain Tuesday afternoon, rising to a near 100 percent chance by evening. Thanksgiving Day’s high will only be in the mid-60s.
The last of the warm weather should still be evident Tuesday morning and early afternoon — it should come close to hitting 80 degrees — but the mild temperatures won’t last long. Tuesday evening and Wednesday, the weather will be both cold and wet.
The mercury won’t hit 70 degrees Wednesday and that evening will be downright cold, with temperatures bottoming out around 43 degrees. The chance of rain Wednesday is 70 percent.
“This will be the coolest temperature we’ve had since last winter,” said Rodney Wynn, National Weather Service meteorologist.
The cooler weather comes courtesy of a low pressure front that will hit the Florida Panhandle on Tuesday. A cold front associated with the low pressure front will head south and cool the Sunshine State for the next couple days, Wynn said.
“Stay tuned, check the forecast when you hit the road,” Wynn said. “Drive safe in the rain showers. Just stay weather aware.”
Thanksgiving will be cool, with a projected high of 66 and low of 49, but will mark a turnaround, with the rest of the week warmer and sunnier. The highs for Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be in the 70s, with lows in the 50s.
Around the country, especially Texas and the northeast, the overcast and cold weather will also impact travelers arriving or departing Tampa International Airport, where on Monday one Dallas-to-Tampa flight already had been canceled. Fifteen departures and 27 arrivals were delayed, said airport spokeswoman Christine Osborn.
Travelers should check with their airline’s website to learn if the flight has been delayed, cancelled or it remains on schedule, Osborn said.
Passenger traffic is already rising at Tampa International, with the highest numbers expected Wednesday and Sunday, Osborn said. From Wednesday through Sunday, the airport expects to see 240,000 departing and arriving passengers.
The airport recommends people flying over the next few days arrive at least 90 minutes early - two hours on Sunday, Osborn said.